Monday, October 22, 2007


Helen of Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony had tagged me a little while ago for this 'animeme'. She, in turn, was tagged by tigtog. It's taken me a while to get to it, and this is my first ever meme. It was fun, especially as I recalled stuff from my growing up that I hadn't thought of in a while.

Now, the photo of the peacock above isn't linked to any topic of this meme, but I had to add it here because of the animal theme and because it is my favourite photo of an animal at the moment – from my recent trip to the zoo. At least it is doing something interesting.

An interesting animal I had
When I was a teenager, my family had a hill myna – a bird with the uncanny ability to mimic sounds and voices. The bird mimicked my mother's voice when she called the dog – and by doing so repeatedly drove the dog, a rather dim-witted doberman, nuts. The bird was a larger relative of the common mynah that is found in the forested, highland regions of Asia – hence its common name 'hill myna'. The variety was more common in the inland areas of the Southeast Asian country I grew up in, and my father had bought the bird from a dealer on one of his many business trips inland because he was impressed at their capacity to mimic human voices. It was an amazing jet black, had a long bright yellow beak with a streak of orange, and sharp yellow claws.

We named the bird 'Guff' – because he was full of it, and it was also our family's slang for 'scarfing'. And scarf was what Guff did regularly. I had a love hate relationship with this bird because it was my job to clean out his cage – more a large enclosure closer to an aviary – including the mountains of revolting, stinking poo he produced regularly. He had a dog's water bowl to bath in, which he loved, but whenever I washed it out and refilled it with fresh water, he would poop in it again! I also hated how he would attack my hand whenever I had to reach in to his enclosure to straighten food containers, clean up, or top up food – so much so that I had to wear leather gardening gloves to protect my hands. But he took to attacking my forearms!

An interesting animal I ate
I was going to write about the frogs I ate as a teenager at a Chinese wedding banquet (stir-fried with dried chilli – yum), just to be able to link to this great photo I found on flickr (warning, yuck factor), but I remembered another interesting animal I'd eaten far more recently: magpie goose.

A colleague of mine, an Aboriginal woman from Darwin,
had some roasted magpie goose for lunch at work one day and shared it around for us to try. She had brought it back to Melbourne from a recent trip to Darwin. We'd had many discussions about bush tucker and Indigenous foods over time around the staff lunch table, so I had been intrigued to try it. I only ate a morsel, and all though I found the bird a bit dark, gamey and dry, I regret not trying more. Maybe next time she brings some back from Darwin with her…

An interesting animal in the museum
My first thought was the whale skeleton at Melbourne Museum – a massive skeleton of a blue whale that had washed up onto a beach in Victoria a while ago. Accompanying that exhibit is an interesting but at times revolting documentary showing the dead whale being found, then autopsied by vets, and then how the flesh and blubber was stripped of the bones by people, rats, mice and scavenger birds and finally bacteria and other microbes at the Werribee sewage treatment plant so that its bones could be preserved and displayed at the museum. My eldest was fascinated with that documentary for a while, an would sit absorbed through the whole thing.

But I also want to mention a live animal that caught my fancy at Melbourne Museum. There is a blue-tongued lizard (well, at least one) in the Forest Gallery at the Museum. In fact, there are heaps of live animals there – something which in itself makes it interesting for the museum setting. The Forest Gallery was created to show how Australia's forest ecosystems range from cool rainforrest and wet gullies to hot, dry, bush-fire prone landscapes.

Walking through it, I was happy to look at the frogs, toads, snakes, fish, birds, and long-necked turtles in their glass walled mini-habitats, cages, and enclosed ponds, but I was completely taken aback – a bit freaked actually – to find this lizard sunning itself on verge of the path. The last thing you'd expect in a museum is a live animal outside an enclosure or glass case! I assumed it was a blue-tongued lizard, but if anyone can correct me, do.

An interesting thing I did with or to an animal
I racked my brain for something on this one – especially something original, since tigtog mentioned the same thing – but I can't think of anything other than snorkelling at Portsea Pier (yes, I've mentioned it before, so I'll keep the details short here) amongst the fish, seaweed, sea horses, sea dragons and other marine life that make the Pier's posts their home.

The most interesting would have been the sea dragon, but being short sighted and not being able to wear my glasses under my snorkel mask, I couldn't see them clearly enough! Well, you could imagine how frustrated I felt, especially when the others I'd gone snorkelling with had seen them and rave about them!

All the same, snorkelling is an amazing thing, and I would love to do it again – hopefully at the Great Barrier Reef, before global warming completely bleaches it!

An interesting animal in its natural habitat


previously posted about my encounter with a blue-tongued lizard during a family camping trip to Wilsons Promontory, but because I earlier mentioned the one I saw at the Museum, I thought I'd bring it up again. Of course, you'd expect to find heaps of animals at Wilsons Prom – but what I find so striking is that this lizard (like the one at the Museum) was also sunning itself on the path, and didn't skitter off or show any hurry to get away from the humans. It was in the warm, drier part of the path to Lillypilly Gully, which was very similar to where I encountered the lizard at the museum. I don't know much about them, but the species is quite special to Australia – one of the few places its found – and though I've never seen it, I hear their blue tongues are a sight to behold!

What also makes this animal interesting to me is that two other bloggers, Mike Bogle and unique_stephen, have also posted photos of blue-tongued lizards on their flickr sites and blogs within the same time-frame! (Though they'd found their lizards in their respective back yards.) Serendipity? Cue spooky music.

And that's why I am tagging unique_stephen and Mike, as well as Kirsty (because of her encounters with the interesting birds of Brisbane), phil from Veni Vidi Blogi (because, well, I want to), and Wadard at Global Warming Watch (because I'm sure he'll have some great perspectives on the impact of warming on animal species and biodieversity) for this meme.

[All images by me under my CC license]

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At October 23, 2007 2:24 pm, Blogger unique_stephen said...

Mark, I don't have any new nature picks from the garden as it's all been excavated :-(

But I've done my best to put a unique_steve spin on it :-)

At October 23, 2007 9:24 pm, Blogger phil said...

Mark - I am torn between elation at my first meme tag, and despair because it's such a hard one (especially with photos).

It won't happen overnight, but it will happen. Incidentally, did you know that your b-i-l gives boiled sweets to small children?

At October 25, 2007 3:31 pm, Blogger Kirsty said...

This *is* an interesting meme, Mark. I will make it my weekend project. And oh, I've just remembered an excellent bird encounter that I haven't yet blogged. Quack!

At October 25, 2007 3:42 pm, Blogger Mark Lawrence said...

phil, I'm not surprised. Have you seen how the b-i-l puts away a block of chocolate?

kirsty, I'm looking forward to it! By any chance will there be lizards? I've very impressed by Brisbane's lizards, especially the ones that live in the rainforest walk at Southbank.

At October 26, 2007 10:13 pm, Blogger phil said...

OK, 'tis done.

At January 14, 2008 8:02 pm, Anonymous DEE said...

Mark, as your sister I remember that damned hill-myna also used to call your name in mum's voice. He was so talented at it that he managed to fool you into responding on more than one occasion.

At January 15, 2008 11:21 am, Blogger Mark Lawrence said...

Yeah, like I was going to admit to being fooled by a dumb bird to the whole online community!

Hmm. Trust your sister to do that for you.

At February 06, 2008 3:08 am, Blogger daisk5 said...

Japanese whale fishing is completely lawful.
And is completely scientific.
In addition, it is a Japanese gastronomic culture to eat whales.
You should refrain from the act of denying the culture of another country.
watch this video.

To the person who wants to know why Japan hunts whales

[DragonBall] Freezer VS Japanese whaling;_ylt=Ap_0uUICejnG3TGasvh8ePvsy6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20080204060044AAgG9Cy

Why do the media of australia tell a lie and censorship?
if doubt me? Post my comment this URL.,23599,23155612-5007146,00.html


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